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  1. #1
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    Advice on where to go next

    Hey all
    I'm new here... first post. I have a question but first a bit of history. I'm a lifelong music lover but have never managed to invest much time or money into a great stereo... spent too much time travelling around spending my money on other things I guess. Nowadays I have a young family so still not ready to spend crazy audiophile dollars, but have definitely caught the "good sound" bug. A couple of years ago, intrigued by the world of Internet Radio and needing some music in our kitchen, I bought a Squeezebox Radio. Didn't even worry too much at the time about using it to play my own library. Gradually discovered that capability though, at first running it off my itunes library on my laptop and eventually hooking up a pair of powered M-Audio AV30s that I used to use for some home recording adventures. Sounded pretty good, and continues to be my setup in the kitchen.
    Next I picked up a used SB3 for my living room system, which consisted of an old Pioneer receiver from the 70s and some old, cheap Realistic speakers. Felt the need to minimize though, as well as enter this century, so I ditched the antique stuff, bought a Dayton Audio dta 100a t-class amp and eventually a pair of NHT Absolute Zeros, which I love. Then I set up a "pogoplug" server and set about ripping my CDs to flac.
    That's where everything sits now, with everything controlled by iPeng on iPad and iPod Touch.
    I'm very proud of the system (and sound) that I've been able to achieve on a pretty tight budget.
    Thing is, I've now realized that there's always something better to strive for, isn't there.
    So hoping for a little advice on my next upgrade, keeping in mind that any purchases over $500 are pretty much impossible given my current financial situation.
    I figure I have a few options, and am wondering what would give me the biggest boost in sound (on the living room system)
    1. I could upgrade to a Squeezebox Touch.
    2. I could keep the SB3 and add a cheap DAC, perhaps a used Cambridge Audio DAC magic
    3. I could upgrade my amp (something used in the sub-500 range... not sure what I'd be looking for.)
    I am not throwing parties so don't need things to go too loud... really I'm looking for optimum detail/soundstage/etc.
    Any ideas on where to go next?
    Cheers (and sorry for the long post!)
    b

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsur78 View Post
    I'm very proud of the system (and sound) that I've been able to achieve on a pretty tight budget.
    You should !

    Quote Originally Posted by bigsur78 View Post
    Thing is, I've now realized that there's always something better to strive for, isn't there.
    The grass is always greener on the other side, isn't it ? Please don't fall into that trap, it's an addiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigsur78 View Post
    So hoping for a little advice on my next upgrade, keeping in mind that any purchases over $500 are pretty much impossible given my current financial situation.
    It seems that with audio, price increase exponentially for diminishing returns. As you are happy with your current system, just enjoy it and forget about this need to always upgrade. Especially if money is tight, this usually means that there are other essentials where you could use that money.

    Now, this is where I would spend some of that money :
    1) A backup solution. You don't want those track to disappear and all the hard work that went into creating your collection to be reduce to nothing.
    2) A battery for your Radio. Your radio does not want to be tethered, it wants to go in the garden when you play with the kids and in the garage when you are repairing stuff what the kids broke.
    3) A few CDs you have been lusting after for a long time. It's about the music.
    4) A SB Radio for the kids. They want to listen to music in the bedroom.

    Have fun...

    Jean



    I figure I have a few options, and am wondering what would give me the biggest boost in sound (on the living room system)
    1. I could upgrade to a Squeezebox Touch.
    2. I could keep the SB3 and add a cheap DAC, perhaps a used Cambridge Audio DAC magic
    3. I could upgrade my amp (something used in the sub-500 range... not sure what I'd be looking for.)
    I am not throwing parties so don't need things to go too loud... really I'm looking for optimum detail/soundstage/etc.
    Any ideas on where to go next?
    Cheers (and sorry for the long post!)
    b[/QUOTE]

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=jean2;703213]You should !



    The grass is always greener on the other side, isn't it ? Please don't fall into that trap, it's an addiction.



    It seems that with audio, price increase exponentially for diminishing returns. As you are happy with your current system, just enjoy it and forget about this need to always upgrade. Especially if money is tight, this usually means that there are other essentials where you could use that money.

    Now, this is where I would spend some of that money :
    1) A backup solution. You don't want those track to disappear and all the hard work that went into creating your collection to be reduce to nothing.
    2) A battery for your Radio. Your radio does not want to be tethered, it wants to go in the garden when you play with the kids and in the garage when you are repairing stuff what the kids broke.
    3) A few CDs you have been lusting after for a long time. It's about the music.
    4) A SB Radio for the kids. They want to listen to music in the bedroom.

    Have fun...

    Jean


    +1 on what Jean2 suggested. # 1 is essential, 2 and 3 nice to have 4 maybe. At any rate you would have $ left after all 4.

    That being said. The next step I would take is save some $ and upgrade your speakers again. I believe that is where the biggest improvement might be obtained. A few years back I collected several Cds which were of varying styles but all very well recorded IMO. I took them to a audio components dealer and auditioned several Paradigm and B & W speakers. To me that is the optimum way to buy speakers. I ended up w a pair of B & W CM1s which are just awesome. Good speakers will let you hear parts of the music that you never even knew were there. Oh and they are powered by one of those old Pioneer receivers from the 70s.

    Enjoy the music !! Get a backup !!
    Last edited by dasmueller; 2012-05-01 at 14:41.

  4. #4
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsur78 View Post
    I figure I have a few options, and am wondering what would give me the biggest boost in sound (on the living room system)
    1. I could upgrade to a Squeezebox Touch.
    2. I could keep the SB3 and add a cheap DAC, perhaps a used Cambridge Audio DAC magic
    3. I could upgrade my amp (something used in the sub-500 range... not sure what I'd be looking for.)
    I am not throwing parties so don't need things to go too loud... really I'm looking for optimum detail/soundstage/etc.
    Any ideas on where to go next?
    As the other says, if you don't have a backup of your music library, something that handles that should be your number one priority. All hard disks fail, it's just a matter of time, so unless you feel like re-ripping all music from CD a backup solution is worth a lot more than a bit improvement in sound quality.

    Regarding your other options, the question I would ask myself first is if it would be useful to have audio in another room ?
    If this would be of interest I would go for the Touch option and get a couple of active speakers for the SB3 and put it in another room. This will both give you better sound quality in the living room and audio in another room of your home.

    Maybe you should try to talk to your audio dealer and ask if you can borrow a Touch or DAC to try it at home and see if you hear a difference ?
    Sometimes it can be possible to hear a difference when you do careful listening in a prepared listening room at the audio dealer but it's not something you hear when setting up the equipment in your own home, so trying it in a real environment is important IMHO.

    As a side note, the Touch in my living room and the Radio in the bedroom is the best upgrades I've personally made. I had a SB3 in the living room before and for me it's actually the color screen that makes the biggest difference, so it's not just about audio quality. In the bedroom I had a Boom previously but due to its size I couldn't place it so I could see the screen without glasses, so having a Radio beside the bed is so much better even if the sound quality on the Boom of course is better.

    Another big enhancement to my audio system was an iPad, using the iPad for browsing the library with iPeng or SqueezePad really makes a big difference if you like to browse around in your library to try to find something interesting to listen to. I still use an IR remote for simple tasks but nothing beats the iPad when I like to browse around in my library to find something interesting when I'm not sure exactly what I like to listen to.

    The biggest improvements to my own system from an audiophile perspective has always been when I've changed speakers. I think audiophiles generally recommend to focus on the source (Squeezebox/CD-player) first but my experience is still that when you system is below a certain level the speakers are critical to be able to hear differences. I can't say if it's the case in your system as I don't have personal experience of any of the components you currently have.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    (Developer of many plugins/applets (both free and commercial).
    If you like to encourage future presence on this forum and/or third party plugin/applet development, consider purchasing some plugins)

    Interested in the future of music streaming ? ickStream - A world of music at your fingertips.

  5. #5
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    Thanks all for your replies.
    You're all completely right... the next thing I need is another external hard drive to back things up. That has been in the back of my head and I should get it done.
    And I understand the speaker thing as well... though I'm currently still enjoying what I'm hearing with the NHTs compared to my old ones, so it's not time to change those out yet.
    The problem is that I bought the NHTs used from a true audiophile, who auditioned them for me on his full-of-tubes, worth-thousands system. So while I'm enjoying the sound I have now, I know there's much more to explore. And he's the one who put the DAC thing in my head... when he found out I was running squeezebox, his first question was whether I had one.
    That said, I guess the real question I was getting at in my rambling post was whether an SB3 plus a Dacmagic or a similarly priced DAC would sound better than a Touch. To me, the upgrade to a Touch would be for the better sound... I find ipeng on the Ipad is so good that I don't feel much need for a colour touch screen at the source.
    But I appreciate jean's comments the most... I have a chronic problem with "upgradeitis," no matter what hobby I'm currently dealing with, and what I really should do is just enjoy what I have!
    For now I'll be backing things up, and thanking all of you for your wisdom...
    b
    (ps. dasmeuller: Don't get me wrong, my old Pioneer was a great old rig, I just didn't have room for it anymore!)

  6. #6
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsur78 View Post
    That said, I guess the real question I was getting at in my rambling post was whether an SB3 plus a Dacmagic or a similarly priced DAC would sound better than a Touch.
    I don't have any personal experience of DacMagic, but here is a post from someone that have:
    http://forums.slimdevices.com/showth...l=1#post596939
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    (Developer of many plugins/applets (both free and commercial).
    If you like to encourage future presence on this forum and/or third party plugin/applet development, consider purchasing some plugins)

    Interested in the future of music streaming ? ickStream - A world of music at your fingertips.

  7. #7
    Oncwe you have the backup situation sorted, go for the Touch - the best quality sound out of SB ever - to date

  8. #8
    Senior Member aubuti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherington View Post
    Oncwe you have the backup situation sorted, go for the Touch - the best quality sound out of SB ever - to date
    I think most people would say that title goes to the Transporter, but for sound quality per dollar (or euro or pound or peso) the Touch is it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by aubuti View Post
    I think most people would say that title goes to the Transporter, but for sound quality per dollar (or euro or pound or peso) the Touch is it.
    agree!

    edit: but then again, my Touch plus Benchmark DAC cost more than my Transporter....
    Location 1: VortexBox 4TB (2.2) > LMS 7.8 > Transporter, Touch, Boom, Radio w/Battery (all ethernet except Radio)
    Location 2: VBA 3TB (2.2) > LMS 7.8 > Touch > Benchmark DAC I, Boom, Radio w/Battery (all ethernet except Radio)
    Office: Win7(64) > LMS 7.8 > Squeezelite
    Spares: VBA 4TB, SB3, Touch (3), Radio (3), CONTROLLER
    Controllers: iPhone4S & iPad2 (iPeng7 & Squeezepad), CONTROLLER, or SqueezePlay 7.8 on Win7(64) laptop
    Ripping (FLAC) - dbpoweramp, Tagging - mp3tag, Streaming - Spotify

  10. #10
    Senior Member Skunk's Avatar
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    I have an external DAC you can borrow if you'd like to try something 'different' before buying.

    It's nothing special. a Zhaolu iirc, that had all the component upgrades. Something to play with though, if you're willing to pay for shipping.
    'The Buddha resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a computer as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower'.
    -Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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